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6 ways to change negative habitual thinking

Are you ready to bust your own excuses and create new ways of thinking?
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2020 was going to be your year! You were going to make the necessary changes to create something different in your life. Perhaps you wanted to start a business, leave a relationship or develop the healthiest body you’ve ever had. Maybe you were about to start studying or were in the mix for a promotion. Then the pandemic hit, motivation might have waned and lockdown was not funny. Hands up if home schooling was traumatic? You might have started something on a Monday 20 times over, but by Thursday you were back to the same behaviours, ways of thinking and had the same attitude as before.

For some of us, the arrival of 2021 cleaned the slate, reinvigorating us with the prospect of a fresh start. But do you remember those New Year’s resolutions you made back in January? If 2021 is cruising along the same trajectory as 2020 and you haven’t yet achieved any of the goals you set yourself, there’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that if you don’t learn how to change your thinking now, you'll blink and five years will have passed before you know it and the regrets will be felt. The good news is that you can absolutely unlearn the habitual thinking that's sabotaged your success so far, and you can start today!

Here’s your reality check: no-one's coming to fix anything for you. If you want things to be different, then you need to think differently. It really is up to you. We’ve never had access to more information and inspiration than we have today. You can find all kinds of solutions, ideas and strategies for change just by doing a quick Google search. Here's what’s important: you have to be prepared to do the work on you, to carve out time to make your future matter. Investing time in your own learning and development is the most important investment you'll ever make.

Research by Dr Fred Luskin of Stanford University tells us that the human brain has 60,000 thoughts per day, 90 per cent of which are repetitive, or habitual. Meanwhile, researchers have spent years trying to calculate how many of our thoughts lean towards the negative, with some estimating up to 70 per cent. That’s not as dramatic as it reads. Negative thoughts are your brain’s way of keeping you safe. When you have a thought that something or someone is unsafe, for example, your brain looks for evidence to make you right so that you avoid that situation next time. If you've a belief that you're not ‘good enough’, your brain will look for evidence that you really aren’t so that you don’t risk your emotional or physical safety.

The first step in changing your negative habitual thinking is to become aware of what's happening in your head right now. Explore these questions:

  • What am I thinking that may not be true?
  • What beliefs do I have that no longer serve me?
  • When was the last time I had a brand-new thought?

What you think determines how you feel. How you feel determines the actions you take. The actions you take determine the results you get. So, are you ready to bust your own excuses and create new ways of thinking? Here are six strategies you can implement today:

  1. Identify the new beliefs you need to be the best version of you – Write them down and say them out loud. Be committed to these beliefs and identify opportunities to practise your new thinking.
  2. Tell your trusted network – Share your new-found thinking, ideas and goals with your closest friends and family so they can hold you accountable. Ask them to let you know when they see the old negative thinking creeping into your conversations.
  3. Have a clear vision of your future success – Spend time working out what your personal version of success is for the next two years and evolve your vision as your positive thinking evolves.
  4. Pay attention – You're constantly receiving messages from your environment about what is and isn’t working in your life. Listen to your own intuition and take action.
  5. Get uncomfortable – The greatest learning really does happen in discomfort. To create new thinking, you need to have new experiences. That can be scary, but it'll be worth it.
  6. Do what other people aren’t prepared to do – The world is full of people who start stuff, but never follow through. Successful people do what’s required and keep going even when it’s hard. Don’t depend on motivation to get you through.

As coaches, we know that the people who are most successful in life are those who have absolute clarity on what success will look like, have a positive mindset and are prepared to learn new ways of being. Bring your dreams, plans and changes to life by proactively working on you.

– The Coach Place Global

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